Dropbike’s letter to Houston’s transportation committee

On Monday, Nov. 13, we attended the Houston Transportation, Technology & Infrastructure (TTI) committee meeting to talk about smart bike sharing. The City of Houston will become the largest city in North America thus far to adopt the model. Houston’s TTI committee and transportation officials heard a few words written by our CEO, Qiming Weng. Below is the letter we read to Council Members.

We’re excited that the City of Houston is looking into and discussing different bike sharing options for residents. We believe Houston can be a biking hub similar to Copenhagen or Amsterdam or other cities that prioritize biking as a main mode of travel. For this reason, Dropbike has been extremely interested in launching in Houston. Our smart bike sharing company prioritizes partnering with cities and organizing their bike sharing fleet. Dropbike was the first company to ever partner with and launch dockless bike sharing in a North American city, and we’re very excited to help Houston become the largest city in North America thus far to adopt smart bike sharing. We’re grateful that the City of Houston has been so receptive to our thoughts and comments on the framework so far. The following are a few points we’d like to address:

1) It has always been Dropbike’s mandate to work with cities. We know that bike sharing will only succeed if local stakeholders get to define what the system looks like and we want to be a partner in providing this service.

2) Dropbike believes that it is in the city’s best interest to keep bike sharing as organized as possible. It’s attractive for dockless companies to want users to ride and drop off bikes anywhere — but that system can be problematic and is not in the long-term interest of the city or its residents. Ultimately, these systems become unsustainable and chaotic.

3) For these reasons as well as for others, Dropbike’s system uses Havens to organize bike sharing. Havens act as points of connectivity or designated parking spots where users can leave bikes, taking advantage of the organization of a docked model without the hefty price tag. Our third-generation bikes are also equipped with cable locks, which give users the flexibility to ride anywhere but hold them accountable to proper parking. In this way, our system is truly aligned with city priorities.

4) Dropbike feels that it’s important to allow companies to prove themselves on execution, user focus and adherence to rules before letting them expand operations in the city. A limit on the number of bikes on the ground, such as 500 bikes per company for an extended period of time, would keep Houston from becoming a dumping ground. It’s important to encourage companies to have quality bikes, software, overall user experience, and community relationships, to allow the City of Houston to measure the success of each operator before expansion.

5) We hope that over the next few weeks, we can engage with the many stakeholders to create a successful framework for bike sharing in Houston. As the largest city in North America to launch this system, your next steps will undoubtedly become a signal to the rest of the country and a model to follow — we can’t wait to be involved in the process.

Thank you for the opportunity to give Houston residents an active, affordable and green transit option,

Qiming Weng, CEO of Dropbike